What are we not doing closer to home?

I came across this question in one of the many articles I have been reading about the environment. I can’t remember who said exactly this, but in many places there are similar questions asked. It is easy to look at other places and ask them why they continue down a path that is so clearly hurting the environment. So this year I am trying to figure out what I can do closer to home when it comes to environmental thinking and change my behaviours.

My latest endeavour is to monitor my single-use plastic. I started this approach with use of plastic bags, plastic bottles and non-recyclable coffee cups and I surprised myself by how aware I became of my usage by writing down every time I used either of the three categories. Therefore I am approaching non-recyclable single use plastic the same way. Every time I throw away a warp made of plastic I write it down in my bullet journal. About a month ago I started to monitor one week’s usage (19 single-use plastic items), and at the moment I am monitoring the whole month. In September I will monitor a full year of single use plastic. I’m hoping by monitoring these things I will use less and find other solutions.

One cool thing that I have bought to help me use less single-use plastic are these cloths, they are perfect to wrap food in rather than using plastic wrap and are good for me as I often make dinner for multiple evenings at the time and go through lots of plastic wrap to keep food fresh in the fridge.

What are you doing closer to home to improve your immediate environment?

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Time to Knuckle Down

We’re almost half way through July and I have about a week left of the school year. This should technically be the time when I can start relaxing and enjoying the school holiday, however this time usually end up being my most busy time.

During the year, there are so many things I put aside for later (my someday, maybe list) and the summer holidays is the time when I am determined to get everything off that list. I need to knuckle down to get it done, no matter how much the sun is shining and how many offers of Pimm’s in the park offers I get.

It is tricky to find the balance between relaxing & having fun with friends and finish off my to do list. I try to plan for both. One summer I decided I was not going to spend any time inside catching up on work, but instead made a plan to finish them off during the autumn and winter when it is cold dark and rainy anyway. What I didn’t think of was that once the term starts, there are so many small things coming up that I didn’t have the time to start any large projects, instead I ended up feeling stressed all autumn term and not happy with myself.

I learnt from my mistake and now I try to find a balance between the two. This year I will be getting things done early, just after school finishes and then I have two weeks in Sweden, relaxing, hanging out with friends, then another two weeks when I get back when I have to make sure all my classes are up and ready to go for the new term. A perfect plan, or at least as perfect I can make it.

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Waste Management

If you have read this blog for a while, you know that I have a passion for the environment and I’m trying to make improvement to live a better, more sustainable life. Today however I will write about not actual waste and recycling but the waste who live in my computer in so many disused files. The reuse and recycling of characters and settings in my writing.

I am a hoarder of snippets of daily life, everything from a distinctive head gear I saw walking past me the other day to fragments of conversations and a funny picture in a magazine. They all end up in a large archive in my head or in the actual archive below my desk. Most of them never see the light of day again, but some are taken out every now and then to be looked at to see if there is something I can do with it. What can be tweaked to fit in somewhere else or what has been taken out too early and need to be put back to grow a bit more.

I never throw anything away from this archive. There are things in there that I am quite sure I will never use, but I can’t make myself throw it away.

Does all writers out there have an archive (physical or not) like this? And can you ever throw anything away?

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July – FIRST

All through 2018, on the first day of the month I will publish a photograph and journal about what it means to me. This is an exercise I will do to further develop my writing.

If you have the time and inclination, you can join me in the comments below and you can find my previous FIRSTS here.

The last couple of weeks I have worked on sorting out the many photographs I have on my computer that I always feel I need to do something with. I make scrapbooks to capture memories I want to keep, but it is a slow process and I take photographs quicker than I can keep up the crafting.

Lately, I have tried to name and remember the many photographs I took during our trip to Japan more than two years ago.

7. juli

This was taken in Osaka, but everywhere in Japan their manholes have these beautiful covers, each design depending on where you are. It is such an easy way to make something ordinary beautiful. How often do you pass over a manhole and don’t think twice about it? Here you stop and look. At least if you are a tourist. It gives me joy to know that there are small beautiful things around us. I have said it before and I will say it again, small things make me happy. Seeing a thing like this on the street made me happy and stopped for a minute to admire the beauty on a busy street in Osaka.

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Un Plan

Currently at the British Library in London, there is an exhibition on the travels of Thomas Cook and I have attended a few of the talks and discussions in connection with this. The most interesting to me was a couple of months ago when Jerry Brotton held a discussion on the maps early navigators used to explore the world.

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I have always been fascinated by maps, especially old ones. The possibilities they must have offered to the people studying them, the beautiful craftsmanship that went into crafting them. They were made to show people where they were going but also showing off the map maker’s view of the world. They didn’t know much abut the world and there were several pieces missing (or inaccurate), unexplored at these times, but they managed to make beautiful drawings of what they had. A map has so many things to tell, more than how we get from A to B, it can tell us of the map makers worldview and the development in exploration and the sharing of information. They tell extraordinary stories of the world view throughout history.

Ancient maps

This is as close to tidy my desk will get (don’t judge me!)

This map sits on my desk so that every day when I sit down to work I can look at it. I think it came from a wall calendar at some point, but now it reminds me of how extraordinary the world is and it raises my spirit to see the exquisite details. I can only imagine the beauty of the original.

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Summer Solstice

This week is Summer Solstice, one of my least favourite days of the year, because now I know we are moving towards darker times again.

I know that for another two months or so, we will still enjoy late light evenings in the northern hemisphere but I also know that this is the day when it all turns back. It is more a psychological effect than anything. In Sweden the Summer Solstice (or Midsommar as we call it) is celebrated with songs, good food, good company and picking flowers to dream of the person you’re going to marry. It is one of my favourite of Swedish holidays, as much as I don’t like when its over.

I love the long light evenings of summer that seems to go on forever and the early light mornings which make it easier for me to get up (I am not a morning person). It’s the feeling of making more out of the longer days that make me appreciate the summer months and I always try to take advantage of it as much as I can.

What is happening in your life? Which is your favourite or least favourite holiday or tradition where ever you are from?

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Set another goal, dream another dream

‘You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.’ – C.S. Lewis

This was a quote I found and put in my Bullet Journal to remind and inspire me when I do my mid-year goal reviews. I usually do this later in July, but my schedule this year has moved around a bit and it was easier for me to do this now as I had some time to do a proper reflection and looking over my goals for the rest of the year.

I am happy that I have reached one of my writing goals I had for this year, and even though I have had to extend the deadline for my second goal, it feels refreshing to be able to set new goals less than half way through the year.

As for my professional goals, I am a bit off where I want to be, but hadn’t planned to reach them until September/October, so for now, I will make sure that I keep working hard to stay on track to reach those targets.

I further developed my spending and saving goals because once I started, I realised there are more things I can do to make sure that my savings account stay healthy throughout the year. As a freelancer it is difficult to know exactly how much I will be paid over the year, and it’s never quite the same from year to year, so it is important to my stress levels to know that I am on top of my savings.

I like how inspirational the quote is to always be able to set a goal or dream no matter whatever stage you are in life. I am sure there are lot more you want to accomplish and there is nothing stopping you from doing just that. So go ahead, set those goals and dreams and fight to get there.

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Persevere

The last month I’ve been struggling with my writing.

I had set myself a deadline to rewrite of one of my old NaNoWriMo novels to finish by the end of May. I had already fallen a bit behind, but knew I could catch up if I buckled down and did it.

Then it happened, what many writers fear. My computer crashed.

Several times.

Me being slightly technically challenged feared the worst and when the advise from different forums was to take out the battery and try again I was sweating buckets. But it seemed to be the only thing I could do at the moment, so I did. And it worked. As a temporary solution at least, I am not sure how long it will last like this.

It seems to be a problem with the cord not always connecting with the computer and because the battery is old and tired, it cannot stay without power for very long. Hence random shut downs.

I am lucky that I never (knock on wood) lost any data in this process, however it has severely limited my time and place where I can sit and write. I don’t like to hand-write because I usually never end up typing the stuff afterwards, so progress have been very slow lately and I didn’t meet my deadline. I have extended it for a month and hope that nothing else will happen to my computer before then.

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June – FIRST

Apologies for missing posting last Wednesday…I’ve been very busy at work, but will do my best to be back next week. Until then, please enjoy my regular FIRST post.

All through 2018, on the first day of the month I will publish a photograph and journal about what it means to me. This is an exercise I will do to further develop my writing.

If you have the time and inclination, you can join me in the comments below and you can find my previous FIRSTS here.

6. juni

When I was young at school in Sweden we were always let out at the beginning of June, so to me June is always start of the summer, and I always feel that this is holiday time.

Unfortunately living in England at the moment with its three school terms and summer term doesn’t end until July, I will have to struggle on for another almost two months before I can think of any time off.

It is strange how our brain works and how our internal clocks get trained to do a certain thing and now more than twenty years later, it is still ingrained in my body clock when summer holidays ‘suppose to start.’ It also mean that I find it difficult not to go back to school in mid-august again (here we go back first week of September and I have trouble scheduling holidays for these last two weeks of term as it just feels wrong.

The photograph above depicts what the south of Sweden looks like from about late May to Midsummer, large, rolling yellow fields with rape flowers and a farm in the distance.

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De-Stressing when my to-do list is too long

Sometimes I can get myself in to a stressed out fit because I feel there is too much to do and too little time to do it. This is where my organised brain wiring comes into to its supreme command. I take out a large piece of paper, preferably ruled, and write down anything that is taking up space in my mind (many people call this a brain dump, or similar). Then comes my love for colour coding, and depending on the pens I have at my disposal, I will make marks or highlight in a simple traffic light system depending on the task. Immediate deadlines or absolute must dos are marked in red. Deadlines, but not immediate gets marked in yellow and lastly, tasks that are not time specific, but things I still want to get done are green.

Once this is done and I can see the whole list, I already feel less stressed. I am a visual learner so it is very important for me to see all tasks, rather than just having the ideas float around in my head. It also helps me see what I need to get done first, no matter if something else is more fun, interesting and challenging, I know exactly what I need to focus on. I think this is why I took the principals of Getting Things Done (GTD) so much. It is an organisational system not much unlike what I had been using for many years on my own.

Some might say that this system take a big chunk out of my time, that I could possibly have used to finish one of these many tasks, but I do believe that being organised before I start will save me more time down the line.

De-cluttering my mind, helps me to see what is most important for the time being, which in turn makes me less stressed over how to actually accomplish everything that is on my to-do list.

What tricks do you do to stay on top of your to-do list? Or do you not have one at all and just take each day and task as it comes?

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